Sponsored Post: Holiday Treats and Tips from McCormick

Tips and treats to tackle the holiday season.

The winter holidays always seem to mean one thing: food, and lots of it. It’s the time of year when we dust off the cookie sheets and pick up extra flour and sugar to create a gift from the heart. So whether it’s potluck Christmas parties, starting a new tradition or finding activities to do with the kids on a snow day, holiday baking can be fun, enjoyable, and delicious. Here are a few ideas for traditional holiday desserts with added “wow” factor – McCormick Extracts – which helps intensify the richness of the pastry, and bring complementary flavors together for a delectably smooth holiday experience.

Everyone expects pumpkin pie, but this year surprise them with something different by making pumpkin whoopie pies instead. A whoopie pie, two cake-like cookies, usually chocolate, sandwiched around a sweet vanilla frosting, is a Pennsylvania Amish tradition. A hearty pumpkin version captures autumnal flavors of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, and is complemented by a tangy cream cheese filling made with McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract to round out the taste. No fork required.

With all the hustle and bustle of the shopping, travel and family, around Christmas, chocolate truffles are the perfect dessert. They can be made, packaged and stored in the refrigerator ahead of time leaving you free to spend quality time with friends and family instead of scrambling for a last minute treat or hostess gift.

You can make a variety of flavors by adding your favorite McCormick Extracts to chocolate ganache. A divine combination? McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract and dark chocolate rolled in finely chopped pistachios for a seasonally green flare. The aromatic vanilla enhances the nutty flavor so well no one will argue over who gets the last one – their mouths will be too full.

A traditional dessert during Hanukkah is Sufganiyot, an Israeli doughnut. The oil used to deep fry these fluffy doughnuts celebrates the miracle in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, when the oil lamps miraculously burned for eight days. You can fill them with your favorite jam, or filling, and are best enjoyed hot and fresh. A little McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract added into the dough with the eggs, gives them a warm, wintery, complex flavor.

Alternately, you can add the McCormick extract of your choice to compliment the filling you choose. Try lemon with raspberry jam or almond with fig. Make them bite sized and they are sure to disappear from the table.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest